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NEW HAMPSHIRE COLONY AND STATE Laws.— ACTION OF
TOWNS AS TO INHABITANCY, WARNING OUT, RELIEF OF
The first settlers of New Hampshire asserted the right of towns to admit or exclude new-comers. In 1641 the inhabitants of Exeter provided that “none but inhabitants of the town shall plant [settle) within the town's liberties (grant] without their consent.” *
The right of towns to exclude strangers was recognized by the “Generall Lawes & Liberties of the Province of New Hampshire made by the Generall Assembly in Portsmo. the 16th of March, 1630 and aproved by the Presidand Councill” in these words:
Likewise it is further ordered yt if any pson come into my house wthin this province & be there recd. & entertained 3 moths if such pson fall sick or lame he shall be relieved by ytowne where he was soe long entertained but if ye constable of yť towne or any of ye selectmen have given warning to such pson wthin y® space of 3 moths ye ye towne will not admit of him if such pson shall stand in need of reliefe ye towne shall supply his necessity untill ye Presidt & Coun" can dispose of him as to ym shall seem most just and equall.f
Here the necessity for warning out to prevent the town from becoming chargeable for the support of a stranger is clearly recognized.
Two other orders passed at the same time and a part of the so-called Laws and Liberties adopted at Portsmouth October 11, 1681, were as follows:
(41) It is also ORDERED; That if any children, or elder persons shal be sent or come from one Town to another, to School, or to nurs, or otherwise to be educated; or to a Physitian or Surgeon, to be cured or healed; if such shal stand in need of relief, they shal be releeved at the charge of the Town, from whence they came, or do belong; and not by the Town, to which they are sent. AND in case they be sent from any Town without this Province, the taker, nurs, physitian, or surgeon, to whom they are sent, shal take good security to save the Town & Province chargeless, or shal be responsible themselves for such as need releef.*
* Laws of New Hampshire, Province Period, Vol. I, p. 742. † Ibid., Vol. I, p. 36.
(43) BE it also Enacted; That no person Master of any Vessel, or other, do bring into any of our Towns within the Province, any person or persons, without the approbation of the President, or three of the Councel, or the Select-men of each Town: Nor that any Inhabitant within this Province, do entertain in his family any person that is not so allowed, for more than one week, without giving notice thereof to one of the Members of the Councel, or to the Select-men of the Town to which they belong; On penalty of forfeiting ffive pound to the Town & of being liable to be sued, & giving bond to free the Town from damage. PROVIDED, this Order shal not hinder any man from taking of an Apprentice, or covenant servant for year or years, that is at pr’sent sound & wel. And if such servant shal fal sick, or lame, He shal be maintained by his Master during the date of his indenture, or coven't and afterwards by the Town in case of necessity.t
In 1718 another Act was passed, entitled “An Act directing the admission of Town inhabitants.” The preamble of this Act was as follows:
For the better preventing of persons obtruding themselves on any particular town within this province, without orderly admission by the inhabitants of such town, or the select-men thereof in manner as hereafter is expressed: and for remedying the manifold inconveniences, and great charge heretofore occasioned thereby: to the intent also, that the select-men may the
* Laws of New Hampshire, Province Period, Vol. I, § 41, p. 36 (Acts of the Assembly in Portsmouth, October 11, 1680–81).
† Ibid., § 43, p. 37 (Acts of the Assembly in Portsmouth, October 11, 1680–81).
more easily come to the certain knowledge of persons, and their circumstances, that come to reside, and sojourn in such town.
The Act required masters of ships arriving from any other country to give lists of passengers to the naval officer, and, if any passenger should be impotent, lame, or otherwise infirm, or likely to be a charge to the place, and could not give security for saving the town from such charge, the master of the ship should be required to carry him or her out of the province within two months, or give sufficient security to indemnify and keep the town free from charge. The Act then provided as follows:
That from and after the publication of this act, no person whatever coming to reside or dwell in any town in this province, other than freeholders and proprietors of land in such town, or those born, or that have served an apprenticeship there, and have not remov'd and become inhabitants elsewhere, shall be admitted to the privilege of elections in such towns (though otherwise qualified) unless such person shall first make known his desire to the selectmen thereof, and obtain their approbation, or the approbation of the town, for his dwelling there.
Nor shall any town be obliged to be at charge for the relief and support of any person residing in such town, in case he or she stand in need, that are not approved as aforesaid, unless such person or persons have continued their residence there, by the space of twelve months next before, and have not been warned in manner as the law directs, to depart and leave the town: any law, usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.
And if any person orderly warned to depart from any town whereof he or she is not an inhabitant, and being sent by warrant from a justice of peace unto the town whereto such person properly belongs, or to the place of his or her last abode, shall presume to return back, and obtrude him or herself upon the town so sent from, by residing there, every person so offending, shall be proceeded against as a vagabond.*
In 1719 an Act was passed for regulating town
* Acts and Laws of Province of New Hampshire in New England, edition 1771, p. 123.
ships, choice of town officers, and setting forth their power, which provided that
If any person or persons come to sojourn, or dwell in any town within this province, or precinct thereof, and be there received, and entertained by the space of three months, not having been warned by the constable, or other person whom the select-men shall appoint for that end to leave the place, and the names of such persons with the time of their abode there, and when such warning was given them, returned unto the court of quarter sessions; every such person shall be reputed an inhabitant of such town, or precinct of the same, and the proper charge of the same, in case, through sickness, lameness, or otherwise, they come to stand in need of relief, to be born by such town; unless the relations of such poor impotent persons in the line of father, or grand-father, mother, or grand-mother, children, or grandchildren be of sufficient ability; then such relations respectively shall relieve such poor person in such manner as the justices of the peace shall assess, on pain that every one failing therein, shall forfeit thirty shillings for every months neglect, to be levied by distress and sale of such offenders goods, by warrant from any two justices of the peace, unus quorum, within this province. Provided nevertheless, this act shall not be understood of any person committed to prison, or lawfully restrained in any town, or of such as shall come, or be sent for nursing, or education, or to any phycisian, or chyrurgeon, to be healed or cured, but the particular persons who receive and entertain any such shall be the towns security in their behalf, and be obliged to relieve and support them, in case of need, upon complaint made to the quarter sessions, who shall accordingly order the same.
And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that any person, orderly warned, as aforesaid, to depart any town where he is not an inhabitant, and neglecting so to do by the space of fourteen days next after such warning given, may by warrant from the next justice of the peace be sent and conveyed from constable to constable, unto the town where he properly belongs, or had his last residence at his own charge, if able to pay the same, or otherwise at the charge of the town so sending him.*
* Acts and Laws of Province of New Hampshire in New England, edition 1771, pp. 136, 140.
In 1766 an Act was passed in addition to the Act of 1719 directing the admission of town inhabitants, imposing a penalty for entertaining strangers, and providing that the expense of warning such persons as were not inhabitants should be defrayed by the persons who entertained them, as follows:
Whereas the said act has not sufficiently provided against persons secretly entertaining strangers in their houses till they become inhabitants, which by another law of this province they are allowed to be in three months, by which means many persons become inhabitants of towns, before they are known to live in the town, by the officers whose care it is to take notice of such matters, for remedy whereof
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GOVERNOR COUNCIL AND ASSEMBLY, that the inhabitants of the several towns within this province and parishes having the privileges of towns, who shall receive admit and entertain any person or persons not being inhabitants of such towns or parishes, either as inmates, boarders or tenants in the house where such person dwells, or in any other house whatsoever within this province, or under any other qualifications whatsoever, for more than the space of twenty days and shall not in writing under their hands give an account to one or more of the select-men, or the town clerk of such town of all such person or persons so received, admitted or entertained by them, with the time they first received them and the place from whence they last came, together with their circumstances as far as they can, shall for every such neglect forfeit & pay the sum of twenty shillings to be recovered by bill plaint or information before any justice of the peace or in any of his majesty's courts of record within this province, the one half of the said fine to be employed to and for the use of the poor of the town or parish where such officers shall be committed the other half to him or them that shall inform and sue for the same & they shall be liable to answer all charges that may arise in said town or parish by receiving & entertaining such person or persons as aforesaid, to be recovered by the town treasurer or select-men where no treasurer is appointed, who are hereby respectively impowered to bring an action accordingly.
And be it further enacted that all costs and charges arising by